People In Our Neighbourhood
A story of a very unique business! Valley Shopper October 20, 2003, by Wilf Rondeau
For some people, one of their biggest fears is to get up and speak in front of an audience. They basically program themselves to get intimidated by the audience. The audience isn’t doing anything to make these people afraid to speak: what’s going on inside the person’s mind is causing the fear. And this is where the unique business of Ronda Degaust and Bob Clarke comes into play.
They are master practitioners of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). NLP teaches skills that people can use to better communicate with one another. As a treatment or as a Success Program, it helps people learn how to read the other person to find out what is going on in a person’s mind so communication flows better.
Currently, Ronda and Bob live and work their unique business from their base in New Minas. “In some places,” says Bob, “NLP is so well known that starting up would be a shoo-in. It would just be a matter of putting out a sign.” They have chosen New Minas, not for this reason, but because it is their home.
Ronda’s Early Beginnings
Born and brought up in Cape Breton near the Marconi heritage site, Ronda originally became a hairdresser, owning her own shop at the age of 22. She later moved to Halifax, where she worked for a while as a hairdresser. When she decided she wanted more from life, she returned to college, studying office administration. She spent the next 13 years in that field.
She came to the Annapolis Valley after being hired by Marriott. The company hired her to oversee employees at Acadia University and assist them in their transition to their new employer. In addition to being responsible for public relations, she acted as an executive assistant and supervisor for the female employees of Marriott.
Ronda’s next job was with the Acadia Centre for Small Business and Entrepreneurship. It was, she said, a comparative breeze after all the responsibility of the Acadia transition. While working for the university, she began studying Neuro Linguistic Programming. She gradually transitioned to her unique business, keeping her day job while she and Bob spent their evenings coaching and taking further courses in Success Coaching.
Bob’s Early Beginnings
Bob Clarke was born in Wolfville and spent the first 12 years of his life in Lockhartville. He started in sales there when he used to travel with his father, who took Annapolis Valley fruit and vegetables by truck to sell door-to-door in Halifax. He moved to Halifax following his father’s death and eventually joined the Navy to see the world. He returned to civilian life to work in sales in various parts of Canada, from Halifax to Calgary, in fields as varied as musical instruments to real estate.
It was in the early 1990s that Bob’s focus would change. After reading Anthony Robbins’ book “Unlimited Power,” he says he became obsessed, as he described it, with learning more about the process explained in the book, that of Neuro Linguistic Programming.
And Bob did learn more. He took courses and began practicing part-time, planning for the moment he would be able to devote his full energy to the process. Bob and Ronda travelled to the United States to take advanced courses from the most skilled masters they could find in the field.
“We are probably the only married couple practicing together in this field in Canada,” Bob says. After 10 years of learning and practicing part-time, Bob celebrated the first anniversary of his venture into the business full-time this month.
What is NLP? There are many different explanations for Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Bob says there is so much to it that it is hard to put into words. Ronda obliges with a short explanation.
“Neuro means the mind…and linguistics is the language we use…..to Program our own mind. So if somebody is doing something they don’t want to be doing or feeling something they don’t want to feel, they actually program their own mind to have those behaviours or feelings, often with their self-talk and the images they create inside their head.”
In the above example where the person is afraid of speaking in front of others, Bob says there are things these people are saying to themselves or images they are creating in their minds that make speaking in public scary.
Bob says NLP teaches individuals skills so they can better communicate with each other, including speaking in public. Bob calls NLP an outgrowth of psychology developed about 30 years ago because traditional psychotherapy was too slow a process for an increasingly fast-paced world. “It’s the how-to psychology or how-to manual for how the mind works,” says Ronda.
Linguist Dr. John Grinder and computer scientist and Gestalt therapist Richard Bandler produced a linguistic model that identified common language patterns of a few gifted individuals and created a synthesis of cognitive and behavioural science techniques they called NLP. Others have added techniques from other specialties. The technology is well known in the US and used in the fields of politics, education, sports, and business. It has become important in many European corporations to train in NLP to advance in management.
Training, therapy, or workshop outcomes are always at the forefront of NLP. Ronda details it succinctly as finding out the problem, determining how the person would like to react, determining if the behaviour is acceptable ethically or socially, working on substituting more acceptable options in some cases, and finally progressing toward that outcome.
Bob says clients seldom return with the same problem because once they have learned how to deal with a problem, the new programming becomes more permanent by repetition. Sometimes returnees will have other problems they want to sort out, or often they simply want to report on their successes.
NLP and Hypnosis
One language pattern that Grinder and Bandler explored was that of Dr. Milton Erickson, one of the pioneers of modern hypnotherapy. Ronda and Bob are both certified through the American Board of Hypnotherapy as practitioners. Bob immediately dispels the image of hypnosis as a person clucking like a chicken as popularized on television.
“Everybody uses hypnosis daily; they just don’t realize they are doing it.” He uses the example of driving a car along a known route and arriving at one’s destination without remembering the journey’s details. “Effective use of hypnotherapy is to help people understand they can do whatever they want. All hypnotherapy is essentially self-help.”
Unique Business Programs
Ronda and Bob offer a variety of unique business programs and workshops locally and throughout Nova Scotia. Two-hour courses include Mind Power for Life, demonstrating relaxation and re-focusing skills, and Power of Rapport, connecting with others and building effective relationships. Two-day courses include Taming the Internal Critic, teaching awareness of internal dialogue and its effect on the self and others along with tools to change and Maximize Your Life Potential, dealing with emotional barriers, relationships and personal growth, and Fearless Presenting, public speaking with flair and without fear.
They are offering a six-hour course in the Psychology of Communication at Acadia University and the Kingstec campus. For those who wish to follow them into a deeper knowledge of NLP, they offer Practitioner and Master Practitioner programs, totalling nine days over several weeks duration.
It’s Unique Business, And It’s International
Ronda and Bob are currently updating their website to expand to an international market. They have already attracted a following among German educators who declared Ronda a champion teacher and practitioner. Ronda and Bob see their home in New Minas as the location from which they will be to expand their unique business, both locally and internationally. To learn more about their business, Life Potential Developments, visit their website. https://lifepotential.ca